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Upgrade Your Regular Weight Lifting to Strongman Training

Tired of lifting heavy bags of cat litter? Why not take up strongman training instead? Strongman training is a great way to turn your often-neglected strength into an asset.

Joe Wilson
Upgrade Your Regular Weight Lifting to Strongman Training
Table Of Contents

Strongman training is a type of weightlifting that focuses on increasing strength and power. Unlike traditional weightlifting, strongman training often uses odd objects such as logs, tires, and kegs. This type of training can be beneficial for those who want to increase their functional strength and prepare for activities that involve lifting heavy objects.

It can also be used as a cross-training for athletes in other sports. For example, football players may use strongman training to improve their performance on the field. In addition to increasing strength and power, strongman training can also help improve balance and coordination. While it requires a certain amount of dedication and commitment, strongman training can be an effective way to achieve your fitness goals.

Strongman exercises are the perfect way to simultaneously work every muscle in your body. The significant muscle groups activated during such training include quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes. The extensions like squats or deadlifts also work core muscles such as those found near our internal organs.

Strongman motions, like powerlifting, are made up of various compound lifts that engage numerous muscle groups. With that in mind, overall hormone release increases while your central nervous system is strained.

The training develops functional, explosive strength that can be beneficial in real-life circumstances, but it's primarily just a fun way to put yourself to the test outside of the gym. The tire flip, for example, will put your entire body, especially your cardiovascular system, to the test.

Finally, some activities can be practiced with only a few pieces of equipment. Request an empty keg from a bar or tavern, transport it to a field, and toss it over your head. It's a fantastic approach to strengthening your posterior chain. Many workouts may be done outside, improving your vitamin D exposure and overall enjoyment. It's wonderful to get away from the gym now and then.

Ways to Implement Strongman Techniques

While strongman training has become increasingly popular in recent years, many people are still unclear on how to properly implement strongman techniques into their workout routine. Strongman training emphasizes lifting heavy objects, often in awkward positions, and can be an excellent way to build functional strength. However, there are a few things to remember when starting strongman training.

Pull and Push

Push-pull training helps you to work out most of your key muscle groups. You can train your upper body muscles that perform pushing and pulling on alternate days or separately on the same day. According to a study, most people can achieve maximal strength gains by training this way (instead of focusing on a particular muscle area each day).

The push and pull technique allows optimal recovery. Traditional training and workouts target one or two muscles per day. It means you'll work on your chest one day, shoulders the next, then triceps, and so on. Even if you only work your chest one day, your shoulder muscles will inevitably have to work as well, as they are synergistic muscles that aid in executing moves like the chest fly and bench press. As a result, training many of the same body parts on consecutive days in a row potentially overstretches your muscles.

However, push-pull exercise gives your muscles the 48–72 hours of rest they need to fully heal before you start training again.

Practice Lifts

Each week, strongman athletes go through a series of events in which they strive to develop strength through lifting. You can also include lifts you wish to improve numerous times throughout a week's training. Sessions don't have to be intense, but making the motion regularly can help you improve your form and gain familiarity with the exercise.

If your goal is strength building, 3 weight lifting workouts per week are necessary. According to a study, having a weight lifting routine 3 times a week is just as effective as more regular sessions for strength building. To gain muscle mass, you'll need to complete more repetitions and workouts more frequently.

Lift Different Objects

Strongman training includes more than your ordinary dumbbell and barbell workouts. It requires you to go the extra mile and work 10X harder than a regular gym routine. As mentioned earlier, strongman training involves weight lifting, but you need to turn your focus on lifting different types of objects, including tires, atlas stones, sandbags, and even mini trucks. It will challenge your muscles differently than usual weight lifting workouts. According to a study, stones improve strength due to their vulnerable grip positions, unlike neutral grips.

Tire flips train biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders, upper back, legs, glutes, lower back, and core. On the other hand, the key muscles involved in atlas stone lifting are the biceps, glutes, hamstrings, and erectors.

Combine Cardio and Strength

While many people think of cardio and strength training as two separate entities, the truth is that they can complement each other quite well. Also, most people neglect cardio during a strongman training program and only focus on strength training, powerlifting etc. However, cardio helps improve cardiovascular health and burn calories, while strength training helps build lean muscle mass and improve bone density. When combined, these two types of exercise can provide a well-rounded workout that helps improve overall health and fitness.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests 150 minutes of medium-intensity aerobic activity each week, such as walking, biking, jogging, or even mowing the grass, besides muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.

Build Explosiveness

In strongman training, explosiveness is vital. The goal is to move a heavy object as quickly and powerfully as possible. It requires not only brute strength but also agility and coordination. Building explosiveness through training helps strongmen develop the necessary muscles for the sport and the ability to generate quick bursts of power. It also helps them learn how to control their bodies and maintain balance while lifting heavy objects.

In addition, explosive training can help prevent injuries by improving range of motion and flexibility. Ultimately, building explosiveness is essential for any strongman who wants to be successful in the sport.

Stick to Basics

When it comes to strongman training, a lot of people make the mistake of trying to do too much too soon. They see all of the crazy feats of strength that top athletes can perform and think they need to start training like that immediately to see results. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. The reality is that sticking to the basics will always be the most effective approach, especially for beginners.

By focusing on foundational movements like squats, presses, and deadlifts, you will build a strong base of strength that you can use to progress to more advanced lifts. Not only that but keeping your training simple will help reduce the risk of injury.

Advanced Exercises for Strongman Training

The following are some of the advanced level exercises that you should try if you want to upgrade your regular weight lifting to strongman training:

Keg Run

One of the most critical aspects of strongman training is learning how to properly execute a keg run. This movement requires not only strength and power but also coordination and balance. This exercise trains your whole body but especially works on your legs, back, and shoulders.

  • Start by filling a keg with sand or water, ensuring that it is not too heavy for you to lift.
  • Next, set the keg down on the ground and position yourself behind it.
  • Bend your knees and grip the keg with both hands, then stand up straight, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
  • Without pause, start walking forward, carrying the keg with you.
  • If the keg starts to get heavy, take a break and rest before continuing.
  • The goal is to make it to the finish line without pausing or dropping the keg.

Log Press

The log press is a staple exercise in strongman training. Not only does it build strength and power, but it also teaches athletes how to move heavy objects safely and efficiently. The log press is an excellent exercise for building strength, power, and size with proper form and execution.

  • Start by positioning the log in front of you, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your grip just outside your knees.
  • Bend at the hips and knees to lower yourself into a squatting position, keeping your back straight and your head up.
  • From this position, explosively stand up, pressing the log overhead. As you press the log overhead, keep your back straight and avoid hyperextending your elbows.
  • Lower the log back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Safety Squat Bar Squat

The safety squat bar is a specialized barbell that allows you to perform a squat exercise with increased safety and stability. The bar is designed to distribute the weight evenly across your shoulders and upper back, and it also has hand grips that allow you to maintain a secure grip on the bar. It allows you to squat with heavy weight without putting unnecessary strain on your lower back.

  • Start by placing the bar across your shoulders and gripping the hand grips.
  • Then descend into a squat position, keeping your back straight and your knees behind your toes.
  • Drive through your heels to return to the starting position, and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  • Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the movement to maintain proper form.

Grenade Ball Lying Tricep Extension

Grenade ball lying tricep extension is an exercise that targets the triceps brachii, the muscle located on the back of the upper arm. This exercise works the triceps from a different angle than other exercises, such as the overhead press, and lets you use more weight.

  • Lie on your back with a grenade ball in your hands. You can use a dumbbell if you don't have a grenade ball.
  • Press the ball or dumbbell straight up over your chest.
  • From the top position, lower the weight slowly back behind your head. Keep your elbows close to your ears throughout the movement.
  • Reverse the motion and press the weight back up overhead. That's one rep.
  • Do four sets of 10 reps.

Thick Bar Lat Pulldown

The thick bar lat pulldown is an excellent exercise for strongman training. It works the muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms, and it can be done with various weights.

  • Start by sitting on a lat pulldown machine with a bar attached to the top. The bar should be thicker than a standard barbell, and you should grip it with an overhand grip.
  • Next, lean back slightly and pull the bar down to your chest. Keep your elbows close to your sides as you pull the bar down.
  • Finally, slowly return the bar to the starting position.
  • If you want to make the exercise more challenging, you can add weight plates to the bar or use a heavier weight.

The Strongman Events

Strongman events are weightlifting competitions in which contestants compete to see who can lift the heaviest objects. The events often involve lifting logs, boulders, or other heavy objects and carrying them for a distance. Strongman events test the competitors' strength, endurance, and coordination. The contestants must be careful not to drop the objects they are lifting, which could result in serious injury.

The winner of a strongman event is usually the competitor who can lift the heaviest object or complete the course in the shortest time. Strongman events are a popular spectator sport, and many people enjoy watching the competitors test their strengths and skills.

Log Clean & Press

The log clean and press is one of the most iconic events in strongman competitions. The event consists of two parts: cleaning the log off the ground and pressing it overhead. The objective is to complete as many reps as possible in a given period. Logs can vary in size and weight but typically weigh around 250-350lbs. The event is often seen as a test of brute strength, but the technique is also essential.

An excellent clean requires explosiveness and coordination, while a good press requires strict form and control. The event is also notoriously fatiguing, so competitors must be able to maintain their intensity for the entire duration. The log clean and press is an essential event for any strongman competitor, and it takes years of practice and dedication to master.

Car Deadlift

The car deadlift event is a popular strongman competition that tests competitors' strength and endurance. The event involves lifting a car from the ground and carrying it for a certain distance. The distance varies depending on the competition. The event is often timed, and the winner is the competitor who can complete the course in the shortest amount of time. Car deadlifts are one of the most popular strongman events due to their simple premise and the fact that they test a wide range of physical skills.

In order to be successful in the event, competitors must have strong legs and back muscles, as well as good cardiovascular endurance. The event is also a test of mental toughness, as competitors must overcome the fatigue and pain that come with lifting a heavy object over long distances.

Tire Flips

A tire flip is a crucial event in strongman competitions. The event's objective is to flip a giant tire end over end as many times as possible in a given period. The tires used in competition can weigh anywhere from 700 to 1,200 pounds. Competitors must first lift the tire onto their shoulders before flipping it. They need to use their legs and back to generate enough momentum to flip the tire over.

Because of the size and weight of the tires, this can be a very physically demanding event. Competitors must have strength, power and endurance to succeed in the tire flip event. Those who can successfully flip the tire most often in a given period are usually the winners.


The stone lift is one of the most iconic events in strongman competitions. The event's objective is simple, to lift a heavy stone from the ground and onto a platform. However, the stone lift is anything but easy. The stones used in competitions can weigh upwards of 400 pounds, and the platform is often more than six feet off the ground. As a result, the stone lift requires incredible strength, power, and endurance.

The stone lift has been a part of strongman competitions for centuries, and it remains one of the most popular events today. Spectators love watching competitors battle to lift massive stones, and competitors love the challenge of trying to best their opponents.

Super Yoke

In strongman competitions, the super yoke event is one of the most challenging and impressive feats of strength. In this event, competitors must lift a metal frame, a yoke, typically weighing over 1,000 pounds and carry it for a given distance. The metal frame is often decorated with objects such as barrels or sandbags, making it even more difficult to lift and carry. It is definitely not for the faint hearts!

Not only does this event test the competitor's raw strength, but it also requires them to have excellent teamwork and coordination. The super yoke event is always a crowd favourite and is often considered the highlight of any strongman competition.

Truck Pulls

A truck pull is an event in which a competitor tries to pull a truck a certain distance using a rope. Truck pulls are typically done on a grass or dirt surface, and the competitors must wear gloves to protect their hands from the rope. The truck used in the event is usually heavily weighted down with sandbags or other weight.

The goal of the truck pull is to see how far the competitor can pull the truck in a single Attempt. This event is usually timed, and the competitor with the fastest time is typically declared the winner. Truck pulls are a great test of strength and power, and they are sure to be a crowd favourite at any strongman competition.

Farmer’s Walk

The farmer's walk event is a strongman competition where contestants have to walk with two weights in their hands. The weights can be of any size and weight, but they must be of equal size and weight. The contestant has to walk with the weights in their hands for a certain distance, usually around 20 meters. The farmer's walk event tests strength, endurance, and balance. Contestants have to be very strong to carry the weights for the whole distance, and they also have to be very careful not to drop the weights or fall over.


When most people think of strength training, they envision lifting weights in a gym. However, strongman training is a unique and effective form of strength training that utilizes unconventional implements such as tires, stones, logs, and kegs. Strongman training has a long history, where athletes would compete in tests of strength such as stone lifting and tree chopping. Today, Strongman competitions are popular worldwide, attracting both professional and amateur athletes.

It is an excellent way to build total-body strength and power. Unlike weightlifting, strongman exercises often involve multiple joints and muscle groups, making them more functional and realistic. In addition, using odd objects forces your body to adapt in ways that it wouldn't while lifting traditional weights.

As a result, strongman training is an incredibly effective way to build strength, size, and conditioning. If you're looking for a new and exciting way to train, give strongman training a try.

Reading List

Article Sources

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Joe Wilson

Mr. Wilson is a motivated fitness instructor accomplished in helping clients of all fitness levels get into shape and achieve their health and fitness goals. Strongly believes health is a conscious lifestyle choice necessary for longevity and happiness.

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